Since 1999 the United States’ installed capacity of wind-produced electricity has grown from 2,000 mW to 28,635 mW, which is enough energy to power the equivalent of more than 6.5 million homes.
A functioning turbine can provide electricity directly to a building or other application as a “stand-alone,” or “off-grid” system, or it can be connected to the transmission grid. Hybrid systems can combine wind, solar, and, for example, a diesel or biogas electric generator to provide holistic energy security for off-grid systems.
A small wind turbine is one that generates 100 kilowatts (“kWs”) or less, and is generally used to produce clean, emissions-free power for individual homes, farms and businesses. As compared to large commercial turbines that may be 300 feet tall and are capable of producing several megawatts (“mWs”) of electricity, small wind turbines may have a 40-foot rotor mounted on a 130-foot tall tower, and cost thousands rather than hundreds of thousands of dollars to construct. Unlike utility-scale turbines, small wind turbines offer increased siting flexibility and can be used on properties as small as one acre. The electrical output of small wind turbines also avoids some of the capacity restraints on the grid’s distributions lines that cause problems for larger, commercial turbines.
2^ Texas State Energy Conservation Office, Small Wind Systems, available at http://www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/re_wind_smallwind.htm (last visited Dec. 15, 2009).
3^ Texas State Energy Conservation Office,Small Wind Systems, available at http://www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/re_wind_smallwind.htm (last visited Dec. 15, 2009).
4^ 1,000 kW = 1 mW. Similarly, 1,000 kWh = 1 mWh. For a detailed explanation see American Wind Energy Association, How Much Electricity Can One Turbine Generate (2009), available at http://www.awea.org/faq/wwt_basics.html (last visited Dec. 15, 2009).
6^ Kevin L Shaw & Richard D. Deutsch, Wind Power and Other Renewable Energy Projects: The New Wave of Power Project Development on Indian Lands, 5 Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Institute Paper No. 9, 5, (2005).
7^ American Wind Energy Association,FAQ For Small Wind Systems, available at http://www.awea.org/pubs/factsheets/Small_Wind_FAQ_Factsheet.pdf (last visited Dec. 15, 2009); See also Canadian Wind Energy Association, Planning for Your Small Wind Turbine, available at http://www.smallwindenergy.ca/en/SmallWindAndYou/Planning.html (last visited Dec. 15, 2009) (stating that “Small wind is great if [y]ou have at least 1/2 acre of property with good wind”).
8^ Ryan Thomas Trahan, Social and Regulatory Control of Wind Energy – An Empirical Study of Texas and Kansas, 4 Texas Journal of Oil, Gas, and Energy Law 89, 100 (2004)